Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

As they did on the battlefield, the Taliban outlasted the U.S. at the negotiating table

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Washington Post, 4 September 2021

In this analysis, looking back at the causes for the recent Afghan government meltdown, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying:

“For me, the mistakes were made very, very early,” as the Americans tried to find solutions that “took it out of the hands of the Afghans,” said Thomas Ruttig, a German expert on the Taliban and co-director of the Afghan Analysts Network, an independent research organization based in Kabul.

The Taliban had long known it was playing a waiting game it was likely to win, Ruttig said. “These are not super-Afghans,” either on the battlefield or at the negotiating table, he said. “But they were much more consistent than everyone else,” and they understood Western politics and the need to “achieve” something.

That, and the fact it did not see the need to “ask their own people if they wanted to be killed or not,” gave the Taliban a huge advantage, Ruttig said.

On the Obama surge:

As with many such U.S. announcements, the Taliban had its own analysis of what the Americans meant. “It’s a surge, but we’re already telling you when we will leave,” Ruttig said. “They interpreted it as weakness.”

And on the Doha deal:

“The agreement was really a gift for the Taliban,” Ruttig said. “And they actually fulfilled it to the letter. There wasn’t much for them to fulfill.”